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Soul Express CD of the Month - September 2010

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The Contemporary Soul Songbook Volume 3

UK Soul Unsigned Records CD, 2010

1) Rest of My Life - ReNeda 4:16 2) We Can Make It (feat) Leon Beal) - Wadz 3:32 3) Hell On My Hands - Charlie Brown 5:29 4) Indulgence - Antoinette 3:23 5) Can't Do Without You - Nate White 5:02 6) No Fantasy (feat) Dee Freer)- Pvibez 4:32 7) With Me -The New Congress 3:42 8) Serenity -Kenny Wesley 3:38 9) Dance My Love With You - Ebony Evans 4:34 10) A Good Thing (feat. Eldon "T" Jones) Brandon Woods 4:31 11) Deja View - Me'na 5:46 12) Love Surreal - The Neo-Jazz Project 4:55 13) Waiting (feat. Mandy Lecointe) - Mamayo 5:31 14) He Did It All For You - Marshall Badger 5:04 15) Your Love (feat. Aaron Washington) - Seductive Souls 4:15 16) Rhythm of Life - Papik 4:39

The Contemporary Soul Songbook is currently the most worthwhile series of compilations to follow what is relevant in independent soul scene these days. The previous volumes were reviewed on our online pages last year and early in 2010, and this third volume is equally essential:
Volume 1
Volume 2

The latest compilation contains mostly very unknown artists; only Antoinette and Me'Na have been previously introduced to Soul Express readers, but the quality remains high throughout the set. All the featured artists and tracks are also briefly introduced in the CD booklet. The album opens with a track by Detroit-based songstress ReNeda, whose track Rest of My Life is a smooth and almost whispery performance. The following two tracks are more in the Deep & Southern style. Leon Beal's husky vocals were heard already in the second volume and he sounds very impressive also while guesting on the track by Wadz. Charlie Brown is a more typical Southern soul singer from Alabama who describes his music as great R&B/Blues with a 70's flavour. If only the backgrounds were done more in the 70s style, too!

If the backings were not quite impressive on the Southern soul tracks, things get much brighter on the following tracks, many of which are jazz-inclined with very professional and stylish musicianship. Antoinette's debut set Verbal Crush was our album of the month in April 2009, and a track from that was featured on the first volume of this series. However, the track on this volume is a brand new ballad track Indulgence, which is foretaste from Antoinette's second solo album.

My greatest favourite on the compilation is, though, the following track Can't Do Without You, which is a semi-instrumental featuring some blissful jazzy bass playing by Nate White, and it made me rush to CD Baby and order his album, entitled That's the Way It Is. It is descibred as featuring "stunning bass solos over dazzling jazz, R&B, funk and soul grooves", and at least that is a description that suits perfectly to the track that is included in this compilation. Can't wait for the album!

Ebony Evans' track Dance My Love with You is taken from her recent album You Did It All, which succesfully creates a mid-70s feel in a Minnie Riperton mould. The next track follow in the same style, featuring some tasty saxophone soloing over the relaxed musical backdrop.

Of the rest of the tracks on the compilation, most have also jazzy solos over ethereal backings, over which we hear smooth soul melodies. Me'na's track Deja Vu was introduced in my Upfront Soul column already in 2006, and anyone who likes this track should not hesitate a moment to buy Me'na's album Living My Life.

More quality jazzy soul follows by superb new tracks by The Neo-Jazz Project, Marshall Badger and Seductive Souls. The album closes with a stunning bossa soul track by Papik, a project by Italian producer Nerio Poggi who has worked as a composer and arranger with Mario Biondi.

As a whole, another great job done by album compiler Phil Driver - 16 tracks with no duds. Highly recommended. -IT

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